From behind the Scots Pines the full moon rises radiant on a cold, clear night. Scintillae of light sparkle somewhere in the freezing air, somewhere between the moon and me there are spiculae, ice-particles only my camera can see. Then she appears in a corona of blue. The moon looks down upon us with serene gaze. I am curious of her mysteries.
At midnight, she illuminates stairs to the skylight where I open the window and look out upon her.
So I consult John Inglesfield who has helped me before with his expertise on optics. He writes as follows:
'I think the motes of light are due to moonlight shining on tiny ice crystals. You say that it was very cold – the ice crystals form from any mist around, and float around in such conditions.'
On sleepless nights I track the moon from her rising in the north to altitude at midnight in the east and I find her low in the west toward dawn. She's temperamental, known for it in her monthly waxing and waning. Look, she says, you'll never really know me. And she's right. She deceives my eyes, she plays tricks with my camera. Through all time, mankind has made stories about her. Fanciful stories. Like the nursery thyme of the cow jumping over the moon. Does her gaze send cows skittish in midnight pastures?
January 8th and the coldest night in Northern Ireland. Here in the North it's minus ten degrees. The moon cocoons herself against the cold night air, wraps silken cloud about her at midnight. 5.25 am and here comes The Shipping Forecast and its serene poetry. Serene as the new moon now in the east. I can infer the fullness of her sphere in the way the light catches her. I can see the craters of the moon, sure I can. Her lovely crescent like Diana's silver bow, Diana goddess of the moon.
When the cow jumped over the moon did she make it easier by choosing a crescent moon? She left one of her horns in the night sky to prove she had travelled to the moon long before man achieved a moon landing. There I have it, the cow's horn.
' I see a corona whenever I’m wearing a mask, with spectacles, when I go into town. As you know, mist forms on the surfaces of your glasses, and looking at street lights through your misty glasses you will see a corona. A corona is distinct from the much larger halo which you can often see round the sun (or less frequently the moon) – this is due to light being refracted and reflected by ice crystals in high cloud,;
Ironic that we wear masks to avoid contracting Corona virus. But can see a corona whilst keeping safe.
As the Corona Virus vaccination programme rolls out we're all eager to be vaccinated. As for the cow who jumped over the moon, did she jump for joy because she'd been vaccinated?
Chambers 21 Century Dictionary
Vaccinal adjective of vaccine. 18th century. from viriolae vaccinae cowpox. the title of a paper 1798 by Edward Jenner from the Latin vacca, cow.
Jenner discovered that milk-maids contracted cow-pox from close contact with cows. He used their antibodies to make his vaccine against the far more virulent small-pox. So the Latin name for cow is the core of the word vaccinate.